A tiny house in New York represents big ambitions for sustainable living, solar power is energizing communities, and the Girl Scouts are celebrating environmentalism. Step into the light with us.
People walking through New York may find themselves staring at a tiny free-standing house in the middle of UN Plaza. It’s a joint project between the United Nations and Yale University, inspired by the “trend of smart micro-living” that appeals to the thrifty and the ecologically minded as well. “While the first prototype is designed for the climate and context of New York, future iterations can be adapted for site-specific conditions around the globe,” writes ArchDaily. At 235 square feet, it boasts its own solar energy and water collection. Not too shabby.
A former elementary school in Buffalo, New York, has transformed into a solar-powered community center, which includes a 64-kilowatt solar array. The project, run by PUSH Buffalo, provides theater and gym space, offices and 30 residential units. The center’s 200 solar panels power PUSH’s new offices and nearby homes as well.
A similar project is opening in Bend, Oregon. The Bethlehem Inn “features a large commercial kitchen, communal dining space, and shelter of 10 families” and derives over half its electricity from rooftop solar panels.
Meanwhile, a student in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, was successful in persuading city leaders to power the local animal shelter with sustainable energy. A new 30-kilowatt onsite solar installation at the Municipal Animal Shelter is projected to save the city approximately $136,000 over the next 25 years. The project has 96 solar panels for supplying power to the shelter and is the brainchild of high school student Zach Burton, who’s been talking with the city for two years to bring it to fruition. “I’m very passionate about protecting our climate, especially since climate change is a huge issue and solar panels are a good way to stop using coal energy,” Burton said.
The Girl Scouts of the USA have just introduced 30 new badges that emphasize environmental advocacy and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects. According to the organization, the Environmental Stewardship badges encourage girls to “prepare for outdoor experiences and take action on environmental issues they care about.” The organization notes that environmental advocacy has been part of its mission since its founding 106 years ago, but says “these badges are the first to specifically prepare girls to be environmental advocates who address problems, find solutions, and protect the natural world.”
In Scotland, Nestle has opened a nine-turbine wind farm capable of producing 125 gigawatt hours of power and send enough electricity to supply 30,000 homes each year. The farm, developed in conjunction with energy company Community Windpower, will power half of Nestle’s U.K. and Ireland factories and is part of the food and beverage giant’s broader goal of getting all of its electricity from renewable sources. Stefano Agostini, the CEO of Nestle U.K. and Ireland, said: “We all have a part to play in reducing climate change and its effects while making sure that we safeguard our planet’s future.”
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